Native American Heritage Month, which falls every November, is a time to honor and celebrate traditions, cultures, and histories, while acknowledging the important contributions of Native people. It is also an opportunity to educate people about tribes, raise awareness of Native people’s past and present challenges, and discuss the ways in which they have worked to conquer these challenges.
While an U.S. government-declared “National American Indian Heritage Month” arrived in 1990 via a joint resolution approved by President George H.W. Bush, efforts to in 1990, efforts to officially honor the contributions (and recognize the tribulations) of native Americans date back to the early 1900s, according to the Library of Congress.
By 1915 the Boy Scouts of America had instituted an American Indian Day (spurred by Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca and director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York); the Congress of the American Indian Association proclaimed an American Indian Day on the second Saturday of each May (an effort headed by Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe); and Red Fox James, a Blackfoot, presented the endorsements of 24 state governments (he’d gathered them on horseback) to the White House. Note that the American Indian Association proclamation – which several state governments did take up – includes a plea to make American Indians U.S. citizens. That status would not come until 1924.
Since 1990, the month has received several names – the current Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, for example – but all have focused on paying tribute to the first inhabitants of North America.
Native American Heritage Month curated collection of research | In that spirit, SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space, has curated a collection of research highlights the culture, traditions, history, challenges, and contributions of Native people.
NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov | This website hosted by the Library of Congress sees the Library, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum curating their resources in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.
Presidential Proclamation 2021 | “This month and every month, we honor the precious, strong, and enduring cultures and contributions of all Native Americans and recommit ourselves to fulfilling the full promise of our Nation together.”
Native American Scholars | The Anthropology Department at the University of New Mexico has a curated collection of links to resources on Native American Heritage Month, including a listing of several notable scholars of Native descent.